When Nicholls State University went cold in the second half, Louisiana-Lafayette got hot to take a convincing win on Friday.
Behind its up-tempo style, Nicholls pushed the ball up and down the court forcing turnovers and getting easy shots in building a 10-point lead early in the second half. But Nicholls went cold for a six-minute stretch which allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to find their offense and go on a 21-0 run to erase the Colonels lead. After Louisiana-Lafayette’s run, Nicholls couldn’t find any rhythm offensively to mount a comeback as the Ragin’ Cajuns took a 105-80 nonconference win over Nicholls at David R. Stopher Gymnasium.
The Ragin’ Cajuns now lead the all-time series 3-24 over Nicholls.
“I just think they slowed the game down and took us away from our strengths a little bit,” Nicholls guard Jahvaugh Powell said. “They started making shots. The shots they weren’t making in the first half butstarted to make in the second half and took us away from our tempo and rhythm. We started missing shots in the second half. It wasn’t nothing other than they started hitting shots and we weren’t.”
Nicholls (4-4 overall) held a 48-44 halftime lead and pushed its advantage to 62-52 after Powell (13 points) stole the ball then drilled a 3-pointer with 15:56 left in the game.
Nicholls would not score again until the 9:35 mark as Louisiana-Lafayette (6-2) went on the 21-0 run to take control of the game. The Ragin’ Cajuns tied the game at 62 after Bryce Washington made a free throw then took their first lead since the 4:32 mark in the first half when Frank Bartley made two free throws for a 64-62 advantage.
The Colonels seemed to play right into the hands of the Ragin’ Cajuns by taking quick shots and not crashing the boards as Louisiana-Lafayette went up 72-62 on Johnathan Stove’s layup with 9:46 showing. Stove would make a free throw to complete the 21-0 run as Nicholls ended its cold streak when Tevon Saddler (20 points) made a short jumper for a 72-64 score with 9:35 left in the game.
The Colonels continued to struggle offensively as Louisiana-Lafayette pushed its lead to 90-69 after JaKeenan Gant sank two free throws with 6:21 remaining. The Ragin’ Cajuns continued to find easy shots by breaking the Colonels press and outscored Nicholls 15-11 in the final six minutes for the 25-point win.
“They switched things defensively a little bit and we got out of sync. It was a good adjustment by them,” Nicholls assistant coach John Aiken said. “When they changed defensively, we started to settle for jump shots. We were missing shots and that allowed them to go on that run. They did a good job and we just didn’t fight back. We turned them over 20 times, but by us not making shots, they were able to run out and get easy shots. It changed the tempo of the game. We were up by 10 with 15 minutes to play, and they made that adjustment and we went cold. When we go cold, we have to guard you in the half court and we want to press you. We are struggling to make stops and playing through those dry spells.”
Nicholls got 17 points from Roddy Peters as the Colonels went 25-of-74 (33 percent) from the floor, 7-of-29 on 3-pointers and 23-of-37 on free throws. The Colonels only had 10 turnovers and came up with 14 steals, but Louisiana-Lafayette controlled the boards 55-41.
The Ragin’ Cajuns had six players in double figures led by Stove with 23 points. Gant had 20 points for Louisiana-Lafayette, while Bartley finished with 19 and Malik Marquetti scored 13. Justin Miller chipped in 12 points and Washington added 10 as Louisiana-Lafayette made 32-of-60 (53 percent) from the floor, 5-of-18 on 3-pointers and 36-of-54 on free throws.